Ask for 14 critical COVID safety recommendations
The Massachusetts Nurses Association sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker on Jan. 20, asking him to take action to “safeguard front line caregivers, patients, and communities during the current COVID-19 surge” by putting into effect a State of Emergency until the end of March. The MNA would like to see issues such as hospital visitor policies, masking, quarantine procedures, and more addressed.
Katie Murphy, president of the MNA, gave the following statement in the letter:
“Two years into this pandemic, we are now at a place we all feared. Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and burned out,” Murphy wrote. “Healthcare facilities are overrun with both COVID-19 patients and those individuals who delayed care throughout the pandemic, and the system is buckling under the pressure. We are closer than we have ever been to the collapse of the healthcare system.
“It must be recognized that this current staffing crisis has been years in the making, as hospital administrators have implemented policies that drove tens of thousands of qualified staff away from hospital nursing as a result of strategic efforts to understaff hospitals to generate greater operating margins,” Murphy continued. “The pandemic has only exacerbated this situation and demonstrated the systemic lack of understanding and appreciation of the role and value of those providing direct patient care.”
A list of the recommendations outlined in the letter is included below:
- Reinstate temporary expedited licensure for out-of-state nurses.
- Reinstate liability protection for healthcare workers working outside their area of practice.
- Impose stricter visitor policies at hospitals across the state- including restrictions and PPE enforcement.
- Require that all staff interacting with patients be provided with new N95 masks upon request.
- Provide onsite testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic employees. Healthcare staff should not have to seek testing offsite. Hospitals have access to tests and the capacity to test.
- Provide onsite booster shots for healthcare staff.
- Return to previous quarantine procedures for COVID positive healthcare workers.
- Provide additional support for school nurses.
- Repeal the regulations regarding travel nurses which have further destabilized the nursing workforce.
- Support a local manufacturing base for domestic production of PPE.
- Include the voices of those on the frontlines.
- Re-establish procedures (tents outside EDs) to reduce COVID exposure.
- Increase the use of the National Guard.
- Utilize all healthcare staff for the delivery of direct patient care (including managers and administrators).
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.